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viernes, febrero 18, 2011

Solidarity With Wisconsin's Union Workers

I haven’t forgotten. And I’m here to remind you about unions. And union members. Here’s Pete Seeger:

Yes, I know. I lament that union membership is now so small. And that union power is at an all time low. I regret that so few workers are organized in the US, and I am aggrieved by the constant libels unions endure: for example, that the auto industry needed to be bailed out because of its union workers, not because of an overpaid, greedy management as dumb as a sack of hammers. The dominant narrative is that the unions and not the capitalists have caused the problems in the economy. So the unions and not the bankers should make changes. And that the unions are unattractive. That they are fossils. What a joke. What utter nonsense.

And now, again, the Teapublicans have decided that the time is ripe to try to emasculate unions. This time the unions are those representing Wisconsin's public employees. This union busting is nothing new. The Teapublicans have been anti-labor and anti-union for more than a century. They’ve never seen a lockout or a goon or a scab or an injunction they couldn’t justify.

Wisconsin has become the epicenter of an overt, concerted, explicit Teapublican effort to regress to the era of employment at will, the 6 day work week, the 12 hour day, no vacations, no sick time, no overtime, no workers’ compensation, no unemployment insurance. Remember the Steel Barons and King Coal, garment sweatshops, and intimidation of workers? Remember goons and Pinkertons and scabs? Remember Haymarket Square, Big Bill Haywood, Eugene V. Debs, Mother Jones? Remember all of that history, all of that tradition? Do you remember what it means and what it feels like? When unions are destroyed, when the power of unions is taken away, what remains is the Teapublican nirvana, the Nineteenth Century.

Maybe it's time to watch Harlan County, USA again. Or Norma Rae. Or Matewan. It is time to remember about unions and what they mean.

The Teapublican Governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker, has made no bones about his aspirations to be the new vanguard of a national, union busting movement.

According to the New York Times:

Governor Walker, in an interview, said he hoped that by “pushing the envelope” and setting an aggressive example, Wisconsin might inspire more states to curb the power of unions. “In that regard, I hope I’m inspiration just as much as others are an inspiration to me,” he said.

FreedomWorks, a Washington group that helped cultivate the Tea Party movement, said it was trying to use its lists of activists to turn out supporters for a variety of bills aimed at cutting the power of unions — not just in Wisconsin, but in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio as well.

And officials seeking to curtail labor’s power in other states said that by focusing attention on public-sector unions, the tense standoff in Wisconsin could give them momentum.

Put another way, Walker doesn’t give a hoot about the alleged financial crisis in Wisconsin or the state’s deficit and pension and health care issues. No. This is his time to try to smash the public workers’ unions, and he’s going for it. And the rest of the Teapublicans in Wisconsin’s legislature are going for it. The threat is so real that the Democrats have had to leave the state to thwart a quorum.

This makes my blood boil. I’ve been for the Union my entire life, and I always will be. Unions occupy an important corner in my heart and soul. My great grandmother was in the ILGWU. My parents were in the NEA. And I’ve been in unions, myself. I’ve pounded the pavement for six weeks in Winter, walking a picket line and subsisting on strike benefits, to demand a decent wage. I will not cross a picket line. Ever. I am furious about the events in Wisconsin.

And I think that if this is a showdown, between union busting Teapublicans and state workers, we all need to remember which side we’re on. And we need to begin to find ways to act in Solidarity with the Wisconsin unions and to support their struggle for survival.

Me? I’m sticking with the Union. I will do whatever I can to support the struggle of Wisconsin's Union Workers. And I invite you to join with me.

Solidarity forever, for the union makes us strong.

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